India’s rapid growth in air travel market has fizzled out in March with the descent of insolvent airline Jet Airways (India) Ltd., the market share of which has been cornered by rivals.
Data released by aviation regulator the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Monday showed that the passenger growth which showed a 9% increase in January 2019 at over 12.5 million passengers from the same time a year ago, has fallen by more than half to 5.6% in February and then to a paltry figure of 0.14% in March. In February, airlines had carried 11.35 million passengers and 11.59 million in March.
The data also showed that major domestic carriers Air India, Vistara and IndiGo have improved their market share in March from the levels seen in January. While Air India market share improved from 12.2% in January to 13.1% in March, IndiGo’s improved from 42.5% in January to 46.9% in March. SpiceJet and Air Asia showed a marginal improvement during the period.
Jet Airways shut down all its domestic and international operations last Wednesday on account of a cash crunch as lenders proceeded to sell shares in the company. A new investor in the company is likely to be roped in by 10 May.
The DGCA data also showed that the capacity utilization by domestic carriers eased in March compared to previous month “due to end of vacation period of various sectors." March also witnessed India grounding the controversial Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after one such aircraft operated by the Ethiopian Airlines crashed near Addis Ababa on 10 March killing 157 people, including four Indians. Firmer ticket prices impacts the traveling decisions in a price-sensitive market like India.